SONIA IN POLITICS – A NATIONAL DISASTER
|SONIA IN POLITICS – A NATIONAL DISASTER|
|By S. Gurumurthy www.gurumurthy.net
(Published in The New Indian Express dt.26.08.1999)
Dear brothers and sisters,
It is certainly not a matter of pride to have Sonia as the Prime Minister. You cannot be electing a person as Prime Minister and not feel proud about having elected her. When someone wants to lead this country, it must be a matter of pride for the people of the country to have that person leading the country. It is not one of those also ran positions where you say, ok let her be the Prime Minister. You do not appoint even a clerk in your office with so little thought. Imagine the depths to which this issue has descended. “What is wrong if she is the Prime Minister”, is an argument, which comes not from the ordinary people of India, but comes from the educated Indian. This comes from the Chidambarams and from the Rajdeeep sardesais of this country; this comes from editorial writers sitting in Madras. So let us analyze this issue in all its deeper implications for a country like India, which as Radha Rajan said has an unbroken continuity.
India is a civilization pretending to be a nation. Something like this is inconceivable by the intellectuals we are turning out of our universities today. This civilization is now facing the might of the nation-state, which has evolved in the west. The nation-state mechanism in the west is basically aggressive, violent, conquering, invasive, dominating, imperialistic. A concept, which the Indian mind cannot internalize, cannot understand, and cannot exhibit in its attitudes. It is basically a civilization, which is committed to fostering our civilization. That is why it grew far beyond its boundaries, known as India, without a single soldier moving out of this country.
You find temples, you can still hear the sound of the Vedas in Indonesia, in Vietnam, in Thailand even today. Two days ago someone presented with a book on Hindu temples in Vietnam. It is unbelievable that Vedic sounds are still to be heard in tribal areas there. No Hindu king went there. No one imposed his culture on them, his tradition or literature on them. Hinduism grew because of its worth, because of its philosophic reach. This is a civilization, which is non-conflicting, which cannot understand why people confront and kill each other. It cannot really understand why someone has to fight over whether his god is superior or my god; to decide this through a boxing match or a jehad or a crusade is not something our people can comprehend. For a civilization of this kind, to be aggressive is alien, violence is alien, domination is alien. But the affairs of the world today are organized only on this basis. These are the fundamental rules of existence. Organized violence is the basis of the nation-state in the west.
The nation-state in the west was forged by clans,by dictators, by oligarchies, and by powerful men. And their power was signaled by their armies; and this power was seen in the destruction you can see through out Europe. You can see broken monuments and the ruins of cities and societies in all parts of Europe. So a nation-state which philosophically grew out of this kind of attitude to other civilizations, other nations, other peoples, and other societies, and which is now recognize as the paradigmatic framework of all political existence, is, for people like us, a difficult phenomenon to understand, and to deal with. We have another problem too, a philosophic problem. In no religious-political literature of this world will you find the equivalent of “let noble thoughts come to us from all sides”. Because all political, social and religious philosophy of the west and of the Abrahamic faiths rest on the premise “only what I say or think is noble”. This is the essence of all their philosophies.
Contrast this to our civilization. You open your hearts and mind to others, to other people, and say the athithi is god personified, you belong to a civilization, which has internalized this value. We therefore find it very difficult to reconcile it with the modern idea of the nation-state, which is based on violence, exclusivity and intolerance. We have problem which we, as intellectuals must understand and deal with eventually. Why do we have difficulty in dealing with this problem of the idea of foreigners and their rising to high offices in our country? Britain would never enact a constitution in which they have to provide the condition that only a natural born British will be the Prime Minister or Chief Justice or whatever. The French and the Germans too will see no necessity to do it because it is generally accepted in their political, social and cultural traditions that only a white, Christian will hold the highest office in their countries. But the USA will have to make such a stipulation in its Constitution. Why? Because America is basically an immigration society. It is a nation state brought about by a boarding and lodging mentality. So the safe guards which are needed for a nation which is forced, forged out of a melting pot identity drawn from all countries of the world, from all races and religions, have to be made to ensure a modicum of loyalty to the American State. The white, Christian American in the USA today, his forefathers rather, had systematically and ruthlessly wiped out the nation, the society, the civilization, which existed 500 years ago. A 110 million people where wiped out in a planned genocide lasting three centuries! The entire Mayan civilization was wiped out in this campaign of hatred and intolerance.
So something new had to be brought about in the place of what had been destroyed. So I would not like to relate myself to the American situation. We are a far more evolved society. This society, this country, this nation, this civilization is not run, controlled, or administered by the police, President or the Prime Minister. I am amazed at the conclusion which I have now internalized for the last twenty-years. In the twenty-five years after I completed my university education and when my real education began. And the conclusion, the understanding is, this society it is an enormously harmonious society. It knows how to live with others. Seven and a half lakh villages and fifty thousand police stations only. American society can’t live like this. Their insecurity is so internalized in the system of relationship between the State and the society and there is nothing called society anyway, and in inter-personal relationships, that they depend on the police and the law for security and protection.
So we do not understand the rules that govern the idea of nation-state in the west and at the global level and what is the idea of nation state that all of us in this country are experiencing. What is the nation in India? The greatest sociologists have been confounded by this country. In this context I have often asked myself what it is about our understanding of this nation that a Thanjavurian in Los Angeles continues to feel anxious about the level of water in the Mettur Dam. He has no land, he has disposed of them all but he continues to watch from Los Angeles, the water level in the Mettur Dam. The reason is, he is still linked to the Cauvery, he is linked to his village, he is linked to cultivation there. In thought, in his ideas. And it is ideas welding a person with the land that makes a nation. At the highest level of existence there have been nations without territories, nations without governments. On a more mundane level and from recent history, one singular example is the Hebrew nation. For two thousand years, they were butchered and persecuted and displaced from a hundred and seven countries. They were strewn and scattered around the world as refugees. Hated everywhere, uniformly hated. They forced to seek asylum in a hundred and eight countries; they were persecuted and abused in 107 of them. They were treated with courtesy and respect and compassion in only one. In India.
The Jewish people published a book in 1965 if I remember right. This book was printed in America distributed all over the world but not in India, I don’t know why. And in this book the Jewish government has said that in a hundred and eight countries the Jews had to go to beg for survival. In 107 countries they were butchered, maimed & raped. But in one country, in India we were received and treated like their own even better than their own.
There was no constitution of India at that time. There was no article 29,30,25,26 calling for protection of the minorities. Do we mean to say that it is the constitution which protects the minorities here? Our constitution, if it provides for the protection of minorities, is the product of this civilization. It has evolved out of our working, our method, our language, our life and when we wish to discuss the issue of foreigners holding high offices in this country, we are told, look at the Constitution, you are communal, you are promoting hatred.
Please understand the idiom of the discussion. The majority community in India has been increasingly losing confidence in the last 50 years. Look at it deeply. A country in which the majority, whether you like it or not there is a majority, because there is a minority, and this majority has been abused, hounded out of public discourse on issues which are important to Hindus, all its symbols were discredited, its points of respect derided. For fifty years it has been forced to assume such an excruciatingly defensive position in the country’s public life. This situation assumed such tragic proportions that a senior Hindu institution like The Ramakrishna Mission went to the courts asking them to please declare that they were not a Hindu institution. And that was the kind of pressure on the Hindus. If eighty-five percent of the people of a country are under pressure, the country can’t be at ease. We intellectuals were looking at the situation for all these years. But what did we do about it? Nothing. This inaction was the direct consequence of the enormous implication, destructive implication of the Macaulayan mix in our education.
This civilization was so noble but it was hardly a competitor to the exclusive civilization, exclusive States, powerful States, destructive States, which could easily conquer the State of India but not the nation. The nation in India has always been free. The State in India may have been conquered and may have passed into the hands of aliens and the invaders but it never mattered. The state in India never symbolized the nation in India. The State was never the protector of the nation. The State was only the residual mechanism in which was vested only residuary power. But in western societies, the State, the king, the administration, the building, the army, and the police symbolize everything, symbolize the State and society. Therefore if you take over the capital, the country is gone, the civilization is gone.
But here, in this country, as Swamy Vivekananda says, temple after temple was broken but they rose again because the spirit of the people was not broken. You are asked to pay tax and go to temples by rulers of alien religion and you paid the tax but you went to the temple. Yes it was a submissive approach but in a tempest it is the unbending trees which fall; the pliant and submissive grass lives to see another day. This is how we learnt how to face a barbarian attitude, a barbarian civilization, barbarian army, barbarian rulers. So this nation is a very difficult nation to define. One can easily define what is French – one who detests all things English is French. You can also define what is British and what is Australian because they are all shades of the same culture. There is no difference among them in their overall attitude to other civilizations. There is no civilizational demarcation between them. They are distinguished only by their approach to power -what is my power and what is his power and how to demarcate that power.
These are civilizations whose age is marked in decades and centuries and millenniums. Thy have no conception of ‘yuga’. Our life is not demarcated in centuries and so we have a much wider area to cover. We need an aerial view so to say, to understand this nation and a clue is provided to you in the freedom movement. What triggered India to fight for freedom and what was the core of the philosophy of the Indian freedom movement? Maharishi Aurobindo said “ Sanathana Dharma“ is the nationalism of India. He went to deliver a talk in Uttarapara in Bengal. He had a prepared text with him and when he wanted to read from this text and an inner voice instructed him to ignore the text and speak what it wanted him to speak. And that was his last speech because afterwards he came to Pondicherry. In the speech he said Sanathana Dharma is the nationalism of India. If ever it is possible that Sanathana Dharma will decay, then this nation will decay; if Sanathana declines, this country will decline too, he said. This country is synonymous with Sanathana Dharma and Vande Mataram. This one single slogan motivated thousands of our people to go to jail, and hundreds to go to the gallows.
What this country responds to, what this country accepts, what this country reveres is Vande Mataram, Rama Rajya, Sanathana Dharma. Swami Vivekananda said spiritual nationalism. It is these ideas, abstract ideas that provided concrete shape to this country, guided the freedom movement. People left their homes, never went back. People gave up their practices, lucrative practices; rich people destroyed their property, gave up their property. Young people destroyed their career. They did not do it for a democracy to be installed in this country, for some one to get elected as Prime Minister and President. Even that an Indian must soon become the head of this country was not in their minds. They wanted that this country should become free. Free of domination by foreigners, foreign ideas, alien civilization, destructive nation-states. India was for freedom in the real sense of the term. It is this philosophy that shaped the Indian freedom movement, but subsequently the greatest destruction of the Indian mind was brought about by the intellectual and academic systems of free India.
Whatever Macaulay said, whatever Marxist said for the destruction of civilizations in nations, particularly the civilizations which cannot conflict, which cannot be angry, which cannot be aggressive, their ideas were implemented to the last detail in the academic institutions and in the intellectual life of this country. Marx and Macaulay had expounded rules for the destruction of civilizations which are rooted in families and localities, which were not constituted as monoliths, which were not represented by a king, by a rule, or by any imposing structure, by demolishing which you could demolish that civilization. India was such a civilization and she posed a major challenge to both Macaulay and Marx. And we have it in their own words. The Indian civilization is ideas rooted till the lowest levels of our social and political structures. It could therefore have been destroyed only by ideas, other ideas, distortive and destructive ideas. Nothing else could have made an impact, adverse impact, destructive impact on the Indian civilization. Invading armies could not do it, foreign rule could not do it, coercive and violent religious conversions could not do it.
Nine hundred years of the Indian State passing into the hands of successive invaders meant there was no protection for the Hindus of this nation. In fact, I remember one of my friends, he was an IAS officer, now he has resigned and gone to some Australian University, telling me Hindus were the only people in the whole world who were denied protection to life and property for 900 years; and he said just one amendment in the constitution of India, amendment to article 21 which guarantees protection to life and property should now be done in a manner to make it available only to Hindus in India. There will be no other people in India in the next 200 years he said, but this thought will not even occur to us. This is the thought on which was based the entire concept of nation-state in the west and in the middle east. Only I can live, you have no right to live and to say this they have a right. And to protect and defend their right to say this in this country is protecting the minority right. Please understand the extent to which the thinking of Indian intellectuals has been convoluted by the English language. We have to straighten them out and only English speaking Indians can do it.
So, we have a problem of the Indian mind, the Indian philosophy, the non-conflicting approach of the Indian civilization when they have to confront the exclusive, conflicting and aggressive nature of the other civilizations and the institutions born out of the those civilizations. This problem, we have to understand, is a very real problem. It is against this background that we must place the attitude of our constitution makers and why they did not think of stipulating in the constitution that only Indians who are people or persons who are born in India, could hold high offices in this country. Because the idea that anybody located on this soil would one day target these high offices would never have occurred to them. We had just won freedom from foreigners. To even stipulate and mention specifically that foreigners cannot hold high office in free India would have been superfluous. But the fact that this was not stipulated for this reason, is today cited as the best reason why constitutionally there is no bar to foreigners holding high office and so a foreigner can become the Prime Minister.
So, now we are conceding that foreigners can become Prime Ministers in India, Presidents of India, provided they hold a citizenship certificate. And odious comparisons are being made with great people in support of their arguments to making Sonia the Prime Minister. Look at sister Nivedita they say, people who have not studied her. She rebelled against the British for India. She and Vivekananda, and Swami Vivekananda’s brother, Brahmapandava Upadhyaya, many people may not know he was a Christian by faith, they were smuggling arms into India to fight the British and she was such a ferocious patriot! The Ramakrishna Mission, which kept away from politics requested her to leave The Ramakrishna Mission. Where is a comparison? And her name was Margaret and Swami Vivekananda called her Nivedita because she had surrendered herself to this country.
Compare Nivedita with this woman. She came to India marrying a very good looking husband. When she came to India in 1968, she was wedded to an Indian who was the son of that country’s Prime Minister. People who say now that it is our tradition that when women enter their husband’s homes, they become a part of that family’s tradition and so Sonia is family now, she too is an Indian, they say sentimentally. But she did not apply for Indian citizenship in 1968 when she married Rajiv and came to India, which is what good Indian wives would have done. She filled in an application in 1968 for permission to stay as a foreigner in India for five years. She said I am married, I am married into the family of the Indian Prime Minister but I would still like to remain a foreigner. So she was given a certificate in 1968 to reside in India as a foreigner for five years. Okay, this may have been due to some adjustment problems.
In 1973, after the first five year period expired, she again applied for the permit to stay on India for another five years as a foreigner and this is the person who is going to live and die for us. I will now come to what Cho, my friend told me, never believe what she says. There is not only complete divorce between what she says and what she does there is also a clue that she will do precisely the opposite of what she says. I will come to it later, there are instances and instances. So, she again applied for a foreigner’s permit. You know why? Between 1968 and 1973, the indications were all there of the imminent war with Pakistan overEast Pakistan. And sure enough, there was the Bangladesh war. During the Bangladesh war, when all commercial pilots were asked to forego their leave and come into service, she asked Rajeev to go on a long leave and he was given special permission and they leftIndia. And throughout the period of the war, they were in Rome. Why, because the American seventh fleet was moving towardsIndia, and Sonia Gandhi probably had serious doubts about India’s survival! So she ran away from the country with her husband; to that extent faithful. And she returned only after peace were restored, after India had won the war, when because of Indira Gandhi, that family acquired stature and became invincible.
And this is where the stark contrast between Sonia Gandhi and Vajpayee is the most glaring. Look at their conduct after two wars. After the creation of Bangladesh in 1971, Vajpayee who was the opposition leader at that time, stood up in Parliament and congratulated Indira Gandhi for her courage and vision and praised her as Durga. He was a patriot. At that important moment, he never thought that acknowledging the achievement of his political adversary will cost him votes. Yes, he lost votes. In 1971 election, the entire four party grand alliance was wiped out and in the 1973 elections, in all assemblies they lost, but not because Vajpayee stood tall in his praise for Indira Gandhi. When Mrs. Gandhi took on Pakistan and created Bangladesh and made Indiavictorious, nobody said it is only the army jawan who has won the war, please do not ask for any credit. And this is what Sonia Gandhi said to the NDA government when we had evicted every invader from the heights of Kargil. This is meanness, pettiness, smallness, and foreign mindedness. It is only someone who would not like another nation to be proud of what it has done who would speak in this manner. Such people will deny credit even where it is due.
It is not everyday that a nation comes together to feel proud, such opportunities do not come in the way very often and that is why those opportunities are to be studied, re-read and recapitulated by history. Yes, you are a great nation because you don’t get this opportunity every decade. Yes you have an opportunity now to feel proud. But what was Sonia Gandhi’s attitude? She played politics even with the self-esteem of this country by choosing the wrong moment to demand an explanation from the government, to raise issues of corruption in defense deals. Even her praise for our armed forces came later when she realised that the people of this country were not taking her criticism of our armed forces very well. That she was a foreigner and had no business asking for explanations came through very clearly. Every intelligent Indian knew there were problems, including corruption associated with some sections of the army and that it was these problems that resulted in the Kargil invasion. Do you mean to say this is the occasion to expose some small number of people and defame the entire army in the process? The army today represents the core of Indian nationalism. Yes, there will be one or two wrong peoples everywhere and they will be there in the defense forces too. But this is the occasion for the nation to rise above everything and pat the army for its heroism, its courage and its sacrifice. But only a nationalist will think like that. But a person like Sonia Gandhi who is after votes, who is after power, who is after a small citizenship certificate to rule this country, cannot think like this.
So, we have to read between the lines, you have to look at the persons behind the skin. So, in 1973, she again applied for a permit to remain a foreigner in India. Now let us come to the period between 1973-1978. In the year 1977 when Mrs. Gandhi was defeated after she lifted the Emergency and called for elections, Sonia Gandhi learnt the mood of the nation and she went into the Italian embassy and refused to come out of it. She said she was going back to Italy. Sanjay Gandhi had to go and plead with her to return. This is the person who is going to live and die for India, please understand. To live in India is very different from living for India. And to live in India in such glory, with such protection, with such resources, is very different from dying for India. No one will die for something, which one does not own up to. Owning up to India is different from thinking you own India.
So, the idea of the nation, love for the nation is irrational. Swami Vivekananda descended in Columbo after his American visit. When everybody was waiting with garlands somewhere on the stage, this man was rolling on the sand saying I am embracing my mother – he who was one of the towering intellectuals of the world, he who could keep a hostile audience spellbound for hours, in city after city on foreign soil, a man who was a rationalist to start with, who questioned Ramakrishna, tell me where is your damn God. That man was rolling on the sand; he said I am in the lap of my mother. This is nationalism.
Nationalism will not come merely by wearing Sarees, it is as much a fancy dress today as any other dress can be. But some Indians are very happy. She wears a saree we are very happy. That she is in India is our good fortune. It is all because, you see I am going to say something, which many of you may not like and because we are brought up in the anglo-saxon tradition some of you may even say I am a racist. I was discussing with Cho Ramaswamy the phenomenon of Sonia. He told me something, which he may not write, but I will share this with this audience. So, we were about 10 people sitting, and he said a simple thing. If Sonia Gandhi had been black, had she been a person of African origin, this problem would never have arisen. Do you all understand what this means, unpalatable though it may be to some of you? It is this fascination for the white skin and it is we the English educated Indian who is responsible for this. We have cultivated a reverence for this.
One of my friends often used to ask me how will you remove this distortion from the Indian mind, this fascination for the white skin, for the English language. Let us assume that you become the Prime Minister, he told me, what would you do? If I become the Prime Minister, I will bring in 50,000 white men who are shoe shiners from every where in the world and make them sit in bus stands and railway stations and airports and the government will pay for any one who wants his shoes shined by white men. So, the idea that the white man is also a shoe shine boy must come to you. It may be a petty idea, it may be a funny idea, but there is a great civilizational implication in this idea. Somebody will be a lorry driver in the USA or Britain or in any one of these European countries. Let us assume he comes to India for holiday and approaches the Air India counter. The person in the Air India counter will say, “Sir, please sit, I have to look at this person first”. This is the way you treat the white man in this country, any white man, with deference. And so, there is a definite racial bias in favor of Sonia. We must understand this.
And also please understand, the ordinary Indian needs guidance from you, attitudinal guidance – how do you look at India, how do you look at Sonia? An educated Indian must be willing to say blatantly, openly, shamelessly, if it is a choice between Sonia and Lallu, I am for Lallu, not for Sonia. Do you have the guts, this is what Tilak said, this is what Bharathi said, “Ayiram undingu jathi, enil anniyar vanthu pugal enna neethi”. Yes, we have hundreds of problems but that is no reason for an alien to fish in our troubled waters and play arbiter here. That is what Tilak said, swaraj first. We may fight among ourselves, we may even kill each other, but we don’t want a foreign arbiter between us. It is this kind of hardened, irrational, emotional approach that makes a nation. We have to intellectualize this approach. We cannot distance ourselves from this approach. Nations are made out of emotional glue. It has a civilzational marking. Do you mean to say nations are produced by constitutions, laws, and regulations? These follow a nation.
A nation cannot be created by all this. A nation produces laws, a nation produces a constitution. This is where the Indian intellectual has failed, particularly the English educated intellectual because he is not grounded in Indian civilization. He reads English literature, he is happy with Shakespeare, he says Kalidasa is the Shakespeare of India, never having read Kalidasa. And we are always defining Indians in terms of some foreigner or the other. Atalji spoke like Churchill, or something like that. Please understand why repeatedly in meeting after meeting I keep saying this – that the English educated Indian has to indigenise himself. He has to become truer to this soil, he has to become nearer to the situation obtaining here and only then will many things unfold.
Had we created such a situation, the issue of whether Sonia in Politics should be made an election issue or not would never have arisen. If it will never be discussed, that issue would never be there. I have been associated with political parties and leaders who were weighing the options on – if we say it is an issue, which sections of the country will oppose us. And I know of several top leaders saying that the English press will stand against us. Only because the Indian English press was bound to take a hostile attitude if we raise the issue of Sonia being a foreigner and a reluctant citizen, many political parties were unwilling to make this a national issue. This was the terrorizing influence that the English educated Indian intellectuals had on the political class. Another argument was, this is not an issue in rural areas. If you don’t make it an issue, how will they make it an issue?
The emergency was imposed on India. The national TV, the press, everything was controlled by the government. The cities revolted against the Emergency; in six months it spread and percolated, and then the villages too revolted. Ideas always percolate down, but if ideas are edited at the top, if we edit our thoughts, if we screen our minds, if we cosmetize our approach, the nation remains confused. Now it is in this situation that all of us are facing a very queer phenomenon. Never in the history of the world, has a foreigner ruled another country except by invasion. Foreigners always invade, they bring their army, superior firepower, they conquer, rule. It is normal. Under such circumstances the invaded or conquered nation will say no foreigner shall rule, we will fight for our freedom. We will take to guns or as we did we will undertake Sathyagraha. This is also normal.
But what is abnormal here is that we are in danger of electing a foreigner to rule in this country. This is something unknown to the history of the world that a foreigner will contest elections in India or in any other country for that matter and claim the right not only to be elected but also to rule. And this has been made possible because the best minds in India are on the defensive. They don’t want to be seen as being narrow minded, less liberal. What is liberalism? One-sixth of humanity living together is in itself the greatest liberalism. All these nations, which are masquerading as countries and great countries, they cannot even compare to a state in India, in territory or population. We are one-sixth of humanity that lives together and lives well together. We don’t need one-sixth of policing in the world, to keep us together. The greatest thing about us is that we live with all our Gods in the Hindu pantheon and with alien gods too. Two tribals can live together. Tribals societies can live together, two unknown persons can live together, but two gods can never live together. There are jealous gods who dish out the harshest punishment for worshipping other gods. But we have been able to make 33 crore gods live together in this country. It is not easy and we the people of this civilization do not have the self-assurance as a people to confront and deal with this issue.
I will now quickly go in to what is Sonia. In 1978, after Indira Gandhi lost the elections in 1977, she again applied to stay on in Indiaas a foreigner. 1968, ‘73, ’78 – for three five year terms, Sonia applied for a foreigner’s permit to stay in India. In 1983, on the thirtieth of April 1983, her third 5 year permit, to stay in India as a foreigner expired. By that time it was becoming certain that Rajeev Gandhi was to become the heir to Mrs. Gandhi. And so, even on the 27th of April, 3 days before the permit expired, till the very end she had still not opted for citizenship, she wanted to be a foreigner till the last day the permit allowed her to a foreigner. Till the last date! And this is precisely what Sharad Pawar asked her in the Congress Working Committee.
In the Congress Working Committee, please don’t think these fellows had taken a principled stand after deliberations. It all happened suddenly. Sharad Pawar described to me how it happened. On that day, the working committee was to discuss the forthcoming Goa election and Sharad Pawar was supposed to present his analysis of the situation in Goa. The CWC assembled, this lady came with a prepared speech; please note even in the 20 member working committee, she comes only with a prepared speech. She begins reading out this speech. Everybody was surprised at what she had to say. She said that the Sangha Parivar against which my mother in law carried on a campaign to finish off communalism, against whom my husband did this and that, they have now decided to destroy me. They are branding me as a foreigner. I will fight them to the last drop of my blood. But, I don’t want this issue to drag on till the elections. I want it to be decided today because if it is decided now, we can fight it out at the time of election, and it will be no issue at all. So, I want to know first whether any of you have any objection to my becoming the Prime Minister. All these fellows remained silent. And then Madhav Rao Scindia spoke, “Madam, you do not have to fight the Sangha Parivar propaganda, I will fight. This is not your battle, this is my battle”’ this set the tone for the rest of the discussion and soon most members began to ask who are these RSS people to dub Sonia a foreigner. Soon it was Sangma’s turn to speak. Sangma said, “Madam, I have very different views on this issue. I don’t know anything about you. There are people who are saying that for 17 years you lived as a foreigner in India. If the voters ask me, how will I explain? Please tell me why you did not opt for Indian citizenship in 1968? I cannot convince the people of my own state, my own constituency on this”. And then it was Sharad Pawar’s turn. He told me he was sitting immediately to her right. Sharad Pawar was the last speaker to speak, he told me what he told her. He said I was the first one to organize a public meeting for you, a massive rally in Maharashtra. In that rally, you said I am an ordinary humble Congress worker. You said I don’t want any position, I don’t want power, I am associated with the Congress family. You also said I don’t even want to become a Congress member. I can’t bear to see a party with which my mother-in-law, her father, her grandfather, and my husband were all associated, decaying like this. So, I want to strengthen this party. This is what you said on that day. And then, I stood up and spoke, and told the people in the rally, if she is willing to do such a generous job for a nationalist party, there should be no objection. She doesn’t want to be the President of the party, she does not want to be in any position, she doesn’t want to be a member of parliament. This is how I defended you against Bal Thakre, but the day you ran to the President of India and told him that you have 272 members to become the Prime Minister of India, which was a lie, all of us changed and I changed too.
This is how the tussle took place and every word of what Sharad told that day was true. This lady said that she was not interested in politics, she would not enter politics. She said she would not become a Congress member. She will only help the party as a person belonging to the Congress family. She said, I am just a four anna member, I will not occupy any position. And then she goes and physically throws out poor Sitaram Kesari from the office. Physically, poor fellow. He has gone to the toilet. His chair was empty, and you know what happened? These congress goons, they went and locked up the toilet and made Sonia occupy that place. And the elderly man cried. This is how she became the Congress President. In the same way as the western armies in the past, would invade other civilizations. Seize power, she seized power in a ‘coup d’toilet’.
This is how every word that she has spoken so far had nothing to do with what she did. Her conduct was the very reverse of her professions. She said I have no ambitions to become the Prime Minister. Who ran from pillar to post? Who brought down the Vajpayee government? I will demonstrate to you her several lies. She told the press recently when the press people put to her the question that Quatorocchi is suspected to have accepted a bribe in the Bofors deal and Quatorocchi is your friend. What do you have to say about him? She said, “Yes, CBI is saying he is a suspect, but they have not produced any papers; and unless you produce papers to prove that somebody is guilty, you cannot say he is guilty”.
All of you are newspaper readers. I will tell you what happened exactly on Quatorocchi. In the Bofors gun deal, the issue is not the quality of the gun, it was always rated as a good gun, but there was a better gun called the Sofma gun. In 17 meetings, the negotiating committee had kept the Sofma gun ahead of Bofors gun from 1994 June to early February 1996, for two years, in 17 meetings, all army people involved in the decision making, they have preferred Sofma over Bofors. But everything changed on 17th February. Please mark the dates. And this tussle for selling guns to India is on from 1980. On 15th November 1985, a company called AE services entered into an agreement with Bofors. The agreement is this, “Gentleman, I will get you the Government of India order for Bofors guns”. And this order I will get by the 31st of March 1986. They fixed the date. I will get it by 31st March and if I get it by 31st March, you will give me 3% commission. 3% commission worked out to 36.5 million dollars, which at current rates of exchange is 160 crore rupees. So, if I get you this order by 31st March, you will give me this commission and if I don’t get it you need not give anything. I owe no obligation to you. Who can enter into this kind of contract except the person who can get it? Everyone was wondering. We were all investigators. Finally, the person who signed the contract, he filed an affidavit in the Swiss court saying it was Quatorocchi who advised him to enter into this contract. It is the sole affidavit in the Swiss Court to the effect Quatorocchi told me to sign this contract. This man who signed this contract and who filed this affidavit was only a pen; and I will tell you what happened.
On the 17th February 1986, the Bofors gun was nowhere in the picture. On 15th and 16th March, however, Rajiv tells the Swedish Government, he was on a State visit to Sweden then, that we will give Sweden the order for supply of Bofors guns. On the 17th March, the negotiating committee clears the deal. In 48 hours. Eleven officials and Rajiv Gandhi signed the deal and on 21st of March 1986, 10 days ahead of the deadline to which Quatorocchi had committed himself, the contract is signed.
The bribe agreement between AE Services and Bofors says money will be paid by Bofors to AE Services, proportionate to the amount the Government of India pays to Bofors. The Government of India paid 20% of the money to Bofors and exactly 20% of 3% was released in the month of September 1986 to AE Services. Within 13 days, that money is transferred to into an investment company and two years later, after The Hindu and The Indian Express came out with exposes on the deal, with documents as proof, it is transferred to another company and the Swiss police has unearthed the fact that the person behind all the three companies into which these monies had gone, was Quatorocchi and his wife. Only they had the authority to sign the secret accounts. And when this was found out and the bank documents were being transmitted, Quatorocchi filed an appeal against the transmission in the Swiss court and the Swiss court said he is a dishonest man and overruled the objection and said this man is involved in the deal, he has taken bribes and it says in beautiful words, he is related to the Indian administration at the highest level!
It is the Swiss court mind you and the Swiss court order comes in July 1993, when Narasimha Rao was the Prime Minister and the Interpol tells the Government of India that Quatorocchi’s appeal in the Swiss Courts has been dismissed, which means ‘arrest him’. One-week time was given to Quatorocchi to escape from India. Just like Win Chaddha has been allowed to escape one year earlier. And this man goes out of India and when the CBI raids his home and finds in his diary notes telling them that every week he has been having dinner meetings with Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi and his photographs, letters exchanged, everything is seized. Then the Delhi High Court issues arrest warrants against him. He appeals to the Interpol and his appeal is dismissed. The Delhi High Court also dismisses it saying this man’s presence is needed and he has to be arrested. These are all judicial orders printed, published, available in the public domain and the matter goes to the Supreme Court. These orders were dated three years before and the Supreme Court orders are dated in February and March and this man tells the Supreme Court through his advocates that I will come and present myself, don’t arrest me. The Supreme Court says, the man says he will come and present himself and be available for interrogation, why should we arrest him? And the man defies the orders of the Supreme Court and doesn’t come; and he files an affidavit in the Swiss Court saying that India is a brute country and he cannot get justice in the judicial system of India and this woman is defending him. Fellow Italian. And it is a blatant lie that there were no documents to prove Quatorocchi’s guilt. It is also a lie that she did not know he planned to abscond from the country. It is impossible that somebody who resided in Delhi for 20 years, who shared weekly evenings with Rajiv and Sonia, would have suddenly left Delhi without even telephoning to her to say I am leaving.
She must have been privy to all these things and she has the audacity to say I will find out the truth about Bofors, I will see that the investigation is carried on and our editorial writers say, “see, how fair she is”. Then allow Jayalalitha to become the Chief Minister, she will also investigate all the cases against her. Lies. And we cannot, our intellectuals cannot understand these are lies. We are very happy, she is such a democratic person. She will allow rule of law, the law will take it’s own course, Narasimha Rao’s famous idiom. This is the problem with us as a people. And ask Moopanar, poor man, about Sonia. I personally met him. Cho met him hundreds of times. This lady had convinced him that she would never ally with Jayalalitha. He was hoping and hoping and hoping that what she said was true. You all know what happened.
So, truth has nothing to do with Sonia. There is absolute total divorce between her words and deeds; it is Thalak thrice between her and truth. Now the topic is whether Sonia in politics is a national shame. Whether it is a national shame or not, it is certainly a matter of danger to national security. Why do we have rules in the army which prohibit a foreigner, a foreign born person, even though he is a citizen, from occupying certain high ranking offices in the army. Why? Why do we say that our IFS officers should not be of foreign origin? Why do we say that our IFS officers cannot marry foreigners and if they marry foreigners, they have to subject themselves to an investigation as to who they were marrying? Now, herein comes the idea of the modern nation-state.
A modern nation state has a built-in insecurity and that is the reason why it has to secure itself. But can the Prime Minister have a foreign wife? Can the Prime Minister’s son have a foreign wife, sitting in the Prime Minister’s office, in the Prime Minister’s home, a foreign wife for 15 years; who ran away with her husband when the nation was at war, breeching the discipline of commercial pilots not being given leave for security reasons, for national reasons. We had this foreigner in the Prime Minister’s family sitting in the Prime Minister’s home, we had the Prime Minister’s son breaching a well-established principle in discipline because politicians inIndia, the MLAs, MPs, ministers are not subject to any rule, to any discipline. Even today whether an MLA or MP is a public servant is a matter debated in courts. So, can a MP have a foreign wife? Can a minister have a foreign wife? This distortion has crept into the system. And what are the consequences of foreigners penetrating our polity? When George Fernandez spoke on this issue on the national hookup, I was chilled inside. He said there is a particular secret file in which all the secrets of the Government, where are the atom bombs, where are the missiles, who can press the button, the missiles point towards which cities, who are our spy links in different countries in the world, all these secrets are kept in that file. And that file is not handled by anybody other than the Prime Minister of India. And if Vajpayee ceases to be the Prime Minister and Sonia becomes the Prime Minister he personally will have to hand over the file to her. It will have every national security secret. It will strip India naked to any inimical force.
Can you afford to hand over that secrets to her? George said even the Defense Minister cannot do anything; he can’t look at that file. The Services Chiefs can’t, they know only their part of the secret, the combined, collective secret, national secret in the hands of one man that will be handed over to this woman.
Whether somebody can speak tolerable Hindi or not is not the issue here. The issue is far, far more serious, it is momentous, it goes to the root of the existence of the nation, its security, its survival and the integrity of this woman when it comes to Washington orVatican and her loyalty to India will always be in doubt. The Pope called her his “abimanaputri”. This is what the Malayala Manorama published on its front page. If the Pope issues an edict I want to have a copy of this file, how many of us can be sure that she will not provide him access to that file? A nation survives on perceptions, not proof.
That you can give me any kind of proof is not adequate but that there is even the one-millionth of a chance that her loyalty to this country is in question, should disqualify her. So please do not think the issues are so simple. I had to say many things and I have many things to say but in an evening I don’t want to burden you with more details I would only request that from today, till the election day, all of you should have only one mantra, defeat this woman and anyone who stands with her whether he is honest, whether he is intelligent, whether he is educated, is not the issue. Anyone who is against her whether he is corrupt, whether he is dishonest, whether he is black white, nothing matters. The issue is not that she is going to be the Prime Minister, but the very idea that somebody can have the ambition like this must be completely destroyed. She must be roundly defeated as a party and as a candidate and there is every possibility she may lose in both the seats, which she is contesting. If the intellectuals of India whose duty it is to preserve the mind of India have failed, at least the ordinary people of India should succeed as they did in 1977 and that’s my prayer.